The artist formerly known as Britain’s most violent prisoner is launching an exhibition which he hopes will boost his new bid for parole.
Hundreds of Charles Bronson’s cartoonish drawings are going on show and sale, with prices ranging from £700 to £30,000 for a multiple set of images.
Many depict the prisoner’s often nightmarish view of his own life through 47 years in jail, much of it in special secure isolation units.
Artist and curator Oliver Hammond said: “If we can show that Charlie does genuinely want to be released from prison to work on his art, there’s definitely a good chance this can help with his parole.
“You know, why would someone, after creating the works that he’s created behind the cell door, not want to continue that on a larger scale outside?
“It’s a little bit grim, but it’s grim to be in solitary confinement for 27 years and in prison for a total of 47 years. This is a man’s mind depicting his grim life.”
Bronson, who has changed his name to Charles Salvador after his artist hero Salvador Dali, has been drawing for many years. His work sells and has raised much for various charities.
He was jailed for armed robbery in 1974 and, but for two brief spells of freedom, has been locked up ever since because of his repeated violence inside jail, mostly towards prison staff.
Former Metropolitan Police Flying Squad detective Peter Kirkham questioned whether prisoners should be allowed to cash in on their notoriety.
He said: “His life is his life and if someone wants to pay money for some version of that, then it’s up to them. But it scares me to say it, but how long before we see someone like this as the new guest on Big Brother? It’s wrong, because people simply shouldn’t gain from their crimes, directly or indirectly.”
At a hearing next month, the Parole Board will be asked to decide what level of risk Bronson is to the public. If it rules the risk is low and manageable the panel could free him.
Demonstrating his ability to work and earn money as an artist, and so support himself, could help Bronson’s parole bid.
The exhibition at the Henarch Galleries in Spitalfields, East London, opens to the public on 23 February, though the artworks go on sale online from today (5 February).
The show includes thousands of vivid digital images created by Hammond and inspired by Bronson’s art, writings, and interviews. They are being sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or digital certificates of ownership.
A third of the profits will be donated to the Born For Art Foundation Hammond has set up with Bronson and one of the prisoner’s supporters. The foundation aims to supply art equipment for underprivileged children.